For the sponge
200g soft dried pitted dates, roughly chopped
200ml water from a freshly boiled kettle
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
2 tbsp black treacle
50g dark muscovado sugar
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
For the sauce
150g unsalted butter, softened
300gz dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
200ml double cream, plus more to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and lightly grease your dish.
Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, stir and then leave for 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and black treacle together in a stand mixer until well mixed, then add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps.
Beat in an egg and keep beating – scraping down as necessary – until completely incorporated, then do the same with the other egg. Beating more gently, add the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth, thick batter.
Using a fork, stir the soaked dates, squishing them a bit, then pour the dates and their liquid into the batter and beat gently to mix in.
Pour and scrape into your prepared dish or cake tin and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter, muscovado sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy-based saucepan.
Once the butter’s melted, stir gently until everything else is melted too. Now stir in the cream, then turn up the heat and when it’s bubbling and hot, take it off the heat.
As soon as it’s out of the oven, prick the cooked sponge pudding all over with a cocktail stick and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over, easing it to the edges with a spatula so that the sponge is entirely topped with a thick sticky glaze.
Put a lid on the remaining sauce in the pan to keep it warm.
Leave the pudding to stand for 20–30 minutes, then take to the table, with the rest of the sauce in a jug, and cream to serve.